There hasn't been so much as a debate this year as to which is the best conference in the country: The Big East has taken the crown almost unanimously. From the beginning, bracketologists projected the league could send up to 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament.
The ACC has never been dismissed--it's hard to do that when North Carolina was a consensus No. 1--but head coach Mike Krzyzewski thinks his conference deserves better.
"It just seems that people always are talking about the Big East," Krzyzewski said Friday. "I think it's been more of a surface-level look at things instead of an in-depth look, and I think when you take an in-depth look, our league is the toughest league. I don't think there's any question about it. Their league's great--don't get me wron--but to me, it seems easy to see. We have four teams in the top 10, and the bottom teams, thus far, are giving the top teams battles and winningsome. I think that's what we call a great league."
The Big East features the top team in the country, Pittsburgh, but the ACC has three of the next four in No. 2 Wake Forest, Duke and No. 5 North Carolina. Connecticut, another Big East team, sits at No. 4. Syracuse is currently ranked No. 8, and Clemson is No. 10. Overall, the ACC has four teams in the top 25--all four of which are in the top 10--and the Big East showcases eight ranked teams.
The biggest difference between the two leagues, though, is the scheduling disparity, Krzyzewski said. The ACC is a smaller league, and more teams have to play each other twice, whereas in the Big East, fewer teams have to play home-and-homes. For example, Duke plays North Carolina and Wake Forest at least four times this year, but Georgetown only has to play Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Notre Dame once each.
Then there is another factor: football. Only eight of the Big East's 16 teams are in the conference for football, and seven of the leftovers do not play Division I-A football. That, in turn, gives them more time and resources to publicize their basketball teams. When their seasons end in March, nearly half of the Big East's teams start counting down the days to Midnight Madness, but most teams in the ACC have football to look forward to. (The jury's still out on whether Duke is one of those schools.)
And finally, Krzyzewski reminded everyone that preseason chatter does matter come Selection Sunday, even if it shouldn't.
"From the get-go, the Big East has put out nine teams, maybe 10 teams," he said. "You've never heard anyone in the ACC saying, 'We've got to get six, maybe seven,' but why wouldn't we say that? Why shouldn't we? I think we should. But we don't, and we haven't done it for a while, and we end up getting four or five. And we say we were messed over, but you can't start talking about it at the end. You have to talk about it as it's going on."
Of course, this whole gripe isn't new. It's been talked about many times--even by Krzyzewski--and some of the ACC's head coaches, like Maryland's Gary Williams and Wake Forest's Dino Gaudio have begun to bang the ACC drum of late. The best way for the ACC to lay its claim to the best league in the land? A Duke win over Georgetown tomorrow wouldn't hurt.